Sweet and power: the Vanilla Sugar Interview

Based out of Los Angeles, California, Vanilla Sugar dares to push the envelope of unprecedented and bold sounds. The eclectic mixtures is the release of Jessica Perry (JP Vanilla) on vocals, synthesizer, and guitars, a proposition which combines comprehensive alternative/electronic sample infused music with an electrifying stage presence. We craved to learn more so with big thanks to JP we explored origins, music, songwriting and more…

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Thank you for having me!

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

I am Vanilla Sugar – I started this project on a midi keyboard and iMac. I wanted to get the songs in my head out and into my car’s speakers.

Have you been involved in other bands before? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

I have been performing in different bands since I was 12 years old. I have done Industrial, Punk, Metal, Pop – you name it! I learned from each band, and playing different genres has definitely helped craft what Vanilla Sugar is today.

What inspired the band name?

The PG13 version is that Vanilla Sugar seems like such a dainty name – when the music is actually very in your face and powerful. I love throwing off new audience members. They never know what to expect. The R rated (and completely true) version is this…I wanted a name for this that somehow had my name tied in all at once and not at all. My nickname is JP Vanilla. Hence the “Vanilla” in Vanilla Sugar….the “Sugar” comes from the term “Kitty sugar” (Feel free to Google when you’re not at work). Put those two meanings together and you’ll know what Vanilla Sugar means!

Was there any specific idea behind the project and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

I wanted the sound to be a mix of everything I enjoy listening to – which is Metal, Electronic music, Pop, etc. I blend my favorite aspects of each genre all together.

Do the same things still drive you from when you started up Vanilla sugar or have they evolved over time?

I would have to say the same things still drive me. I write lyrics from the heart – things that I have been through, things I overcame – I want to share it with the listener. You never know what someone is going through. Music helped me through a lot while I was growing up and I want to be able to return the favor.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

The sound is much more structured now – in a great way. Songs are smooth, clean and on time!

And that has been more of an organic movement of sound or you deliberately wanting to try new things?

A deliberate change – I am always trying to better the sound.

Presumably you haves a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on your music but your personal approach and ideas to creating it?

I love Grimes – she is a huge influence on me. I respect that she does everything DIY. Love that – and Mindless Self Indulgence – they taught me to be brave and not care what the formula is “supposed” to be when writing a song. They taught me to write what feels right.

Is there a particular process to your songwriting?

Typically the song is made, often times starting with a synth melody. I write the lyrics from the feelings the music gives me.

You touched on lyrics earlier; the major sparks for that side are?

Life experiences. It’s a way for me to get things off my chest. I have a very bad habit of holding onto bad experiences and let it eat away at me. When I write the lyrics around the issue, it’s as if I am releasing it from myself and it’s a very freeing feeling.

Give us some background to your latest release.

This new album is my first one! I am very excited to share it with the world.  A lot of blood, sweat, and glitter have gone into this.

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

I am trapped inside of my head a lot. This album dives into that, and I confront myself for the first time through lyrics. The music videos give a wonderful view into the insides of my brain.

Are you someone that goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

I prefer to develop songs as I record. I record little ideas at home, but ultimately my producer and I work songs out at the studio.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

I love playing live shows! It is wonderful to be able to connect with fans. My favorite part of the live show is when I get to go crazy with my keytar. I love feeling the music that way.

It is not easy for any new band or artist to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

I think there is always a place for opportunity to happen, you just need to work to make it happen. I tour often, and wide – from Los Angeles to Florida, and venturing out into Brazil, Japan, and the UK within the upcoming years.  It’s important to keep touring so you can grow your fanbase.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

I absolutely love social media when it comes to music. Before social media, promoting shows and your brand was difficult! Now, I can just create an event on Facebook and invite anyone all over the world! It’s a great way to keep in contact with your fans, and allow them to see the real you.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you again for having me! I host a Facebook & Instagram Live every Thursday night at 8pm PST. Please join – I would love to get to know you!

https://www.facebook.com/vanillasugarmusic/

Pete RingMaster 09/07/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Scott Gray – Raincoats and Other Short Stories

This month sees the exclusive re-release in the U.K. and Europe of Raincoats & Other Short Stories, the latest EP from US singer-songwriter Scott Gray. Featuring re-mastered songs and a bonus track, the seven song release is a familiar croon for the heart and a picture book for the imagination which provides a rather enjoyable companion for the ears too.

Nashville based, Gray takes inspiration from the likes of Sting, Leonard Cohen, and Jamie Cullum and like them instinctively crafts his songs as stories embracing the imagination and personal experiences seeded in the broad and intimate moments in life all in some way can relate to. Musically, these adventures further blossom from their creator’s infectious fusion of pop and jazz, a blend carrying a breath as soulful as it is melodic rock energetic. Certainly artists like Michael Bublé and Harry Connick Jr come to mind at times across Gray’s new release but more so it offers an eagerly captivating fresh and individual character.

Raincoats & Other Short Stories first embraces ears with Raincoats, a song which immediately got under the skin as the body bounced to its catchy lure of voice and piano. Gray’s fingers stroll over keys with smiling eagerness, his tones just as vibrant and enthused and almost grinning as they welcome the subsequent full spirited swing of brass and the summery sparkle of keys. The flames of the chorus add another virulent hue to the inescapably catchy encounter and thrilling start to the EP.

Maybe It’s You follows and is no less a flirtatious temptation, its more concentrated canter a joy of nagging bass and again balmy keys cast melodies. Harmonies and brass simply accentuate the track’s affectionate tale and persuasion, a growing classic rock hue another magnetic spice to its swinging heart and keenly sauntering demeanour. As its predecessor, the track quickly had us eating out of its enterprising hand before making way for the sultry charm and intimate jazz club climate of She Remains. Smoky brass joins melancholic keys alongside the reflective reveal of word and Gray’s ever alluring voice; every second of their melodic and wistful contemplation effortlessly beguiling.

Equally thoughtful and pensively mellow is Captured, a tale of dejection, determination and unstoppable romance. Though it maybe took a play or two more to tempt as those before it, the song emerges another ear and appetite ensnaring proposal persistently tempting with an almost gnarly throated sax, invigorating crescendos and Gray’s consistently potent and persuasive voice, the latter especially just as commanding and compelling within the following Someday, Gray’s latest single. Sharing a park bench with the listener watching life go by, it is a melodic musing easily embracing and sparking the imagination.

The lively infectious rock ‘n’ roll of Games You Play, a pop fuelled canter with a jazz rock bred personality and bounce that again needed little time to gain ears and participation, brings further variety to the EP before it closes up with bonus track, As If. An emotionally charged serenade of voice and sound with a fire in its heart, the song makes a fine end to a release which just grows and blossoms in ears and enjoyment play by play and is easy to see bringing a whole new audience the way of Scott Gray from this side of the big pond.

Raincoats and Other Short Stories is only available in the UK and Europe on iTunes @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/raincoats-other-short-stories/1451747753

http://www.scottgraymusic.com/    https://www.facebook.com/500HatsMusic/   https://twitter.com/ScottGrayMusic

Pete RingMaster 24/03/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel

Despite new album The Railway Prince Hotel being their seventh, US indie popsters Tullycraft has been a name rather than musical presence on our radar here and it has pretty much been the same with global recognition and attention. It is an outfit though which is said to have been “one of the forefathers of the American twee pop movement”, indeed one of the biggest influences on so many bands emerging over recent times within the indie pop underground and beyond. On the evidence of their new offering it just might be the time they themselves step out into the biggest spotlights as The Railway Prince Hotel is simply one irresistible slice of cute pop contagion.

Tullycraft emerged back in 1995 and a swift hindsight listen in the wake of The Railway Prince Hotel shows they have been the source of a host of delicious pop songs and releases which reveal why they have been a potent inspiration to so many. The new album though is a new twist in their songwriting and sound, a collection of hungrily lively pop songs with their own individual bounce and mischief to what has come before. The riveting union of lead vocals from bassist Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears is one of the most potent lures to the Seattle band’s music but no more so than the instinctive hooks and radiant melodies which tease and inspire attention. Listening to their new release we quickly found ourselves thinking back to the organic and viral pop of seventies/eighties bands like The Freshies, The Farmers Boys and to a slightly lesser degree Weekend and The Chefs; alluring and no doubt coincidental tinges in the openly individual character of the Tullycraft sound.

It is fair to say that The Railway Prince Hotel had us hooked and licking lips with simply its first three tracks; songs which no matter what was to follow ensured our full recommendation was lining up. Midi Midinette starts things off, its summery flames of brass and energetic bounce instantly burrowing deep as too the rising union of harmonic vocal lures. Soulful and whimsical in all the right ways, the song provides a joyous stroll which hips and vocal chords just could not resist, both soon manipulated to matching effort by the following pair of Passing Observations and We Couldn’t Dance To Billy Joel.

From its opening bait of bass, the first of the pair had the body swinging; its temptation instantly escalated by the vocal collaboration of Mears and band around Tollefson‘s lone and as potent lines. The guitars of Chris Munford and Corianton Hale again almost tease as they melodically entice but it is Mear’s melodic cries which made for the greatest seduction in a song and particularly chorus which made for increasingly mischievous aural manna. Its successor with its jovial jangle and frisky rhythms allowed for no relaxation of feet and body swerves, its flirtatious vocals and melodies a pleasing mix of comforting warmth and playful unpredictability.

Goldie And The Gingerbreads is next up sharing another bassline which just hooked the appetite. From there the skittish beats and coy but bold melodic clang of guitar escalated its hold on ears while harmonies suggest the echoing lures of bands such as The Shangri-Las and The Crystals make a natural pleasure for the band itself.

We could not say that either Has Your Boyfriend Lost His Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? or Beginners At Best quite sparked the same unreserved reactions of their predecessors but both with their particular creative essences and enterprise left us bouncing along with a wholly satisfied smile while It’s Not Explained, It’s Delaware with its reserved country twang brought its own healthy amount of and easy to take pleasure.

The brief electro pop saunter of Lost Our Friends To Heavy Metal was another which took longer to take too even if hips unapologetically defied that sloth like appreciation while Hearts At The Sound straight after ignited another round of eager bouncing with its rowdier pop ‘n’ roll before The Cat’s Miaow In A Spacesuit had us hooked with its bass swing alone, closing the trap with vocal and melody erudition. The latter pair emerged to test the opening threesome for best song honours, a choice never settled on even through numerous listens.

The album closes out with firstly its title track, a spirited influential proposal lying somewhere between old school pop punk/power pop and brass flamed indie rock and lastly the carefree pop rock stroll of Vacaville. Each leaves a greed for more behind with the final treat another vying for the album’s finest moment.

We can only feel we have missed out on years of enjoyment listening to Tullycraft but as we feel sure so many more newcomers will do, we are making up for it with The Railway Prince Hotel, one of the year’s early and real pleasures.

 The Railway Prince Hotel is out now @ https://tullycraft.bandcamp.com/album/the-railway-prince-hotel and available on vinyl via HHBTM Records.

https://tullycraft.com/   https://www.facebook.com/TullycraftBand

 Pete RingMaster 12/02/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

AM Taxi – Shiver by Me

As much as craft and imagination guides our choice of musical pleasures and favourites it is instinct and organic connections which truly steer reactions and loves, both fully behind our swift and unconditional ardour for Shiver by Me. Not that the creative invention and agility of AM Taxi and their release falls short, it all going to make for one rousing slab of punk ‘n’ roll, but quite simply it is an album which just knows what our personal wants and pleasures are and feed all with tenacity.

The successor to We Don’t Stand A Chance, the Chicago band’s well-received 2010 Virgin Records released debut, Shiver by Me provides a romping, stomping fusion of old school punk and alternative rock with modern pop instincts. It snarls as it bounces, reeking defiance as it unleashes virulent catchiness across eleven boisterous encounters, all the while leaving ears and appetite greedy for more. It bursts into life with a bang and never leaves a want for anything thereon in.

Saint Jane provides that explosive beginning, cavorting rhythms linking up with a teasing guitar jangle as vocals wait to add their lively energy. Hitting full swing as guitarist Adam Krier adds his lead tones, the track is an insatiable pop punk temptation springing seventies punk with indie pop feverishness. There was no escaping its manipulation of body and vocal chords nor the swift ardour sparked and carried on by the following Harpoon. Echoing its predecessor, the track is just as persuasive and irresistible vocally as it is musically, Krier and the band’s backing effortlessly getting under the skin just as the swinging beats of Chris Smith, the brooding but eager grumble of Jason Schultejann’s bass and the melodic shenanigans of Jay Marino’s guitar alongside those of Krier. With devious hooks at every twist and turn, the track is viral contagion to which personal hollering was inevitable.

Next up Movie About Your Life proved to be no less of a puppeteer either, its acoustic strum and persuasive handclaps teasing to the great vocal snaring quickly in tow with melodic intimations lining the captivation as it bubbles up while Swim Before You Sink (Short Time on Earth) straight after uncages bold imagination brewed rock ‘n’ roll which fed every want in the personal book. Both tracks are simply outstanding continuing the impressively rousing roar of the album already in full flow.

Fighting in Cars is relatively calmer but still a spirited proposition with its lithe rhythms and melodic web while L’ Patron provides an ear romancing saunter with a fire in its belly and passion in its heart. Each of the pair hit the spot with their openly individual proposals; success fully matched by the indie rock hued punk pop canter of Stuck Around. The hook springing and vocal prowess of the band, let alone an inexhaustible rhythmic agility, is persistent across each track within the release and no more tantalising than here.

Through the Clash kissed Brandy Don’t Let Me Down and the reflective and skilfully dramatic Minute Alone, the album is as compelling and striking as ever, both slices of pleasure matched in creative kind by the soul nurtured Shaken Over You. Sam Cooke is named by the band as one of their influences, an inspiration breeding this treat, a song elevated further by a Jam-esque whiff.

The album closes with Warsaw Blues, a gentle slice of melodic intimacy which maybe did not inflame the passions as those before but left a certain pleasure and appetite for more of its almost smouldering temptation.

Shiver by Me is one riveting adventure from start to finish and AM Taxi a band no punk or rock ‘n’ roll fan should skip by without giving at least a curious listen.

Shiver by Me is out now @ https://amtaximusic.bandcamp.com/album/shiver-by-me and also available on limited vinyl this April through Mutant League Records.

https://www.facebook.com/amtaxi/    https://www.amtaximusic.com/  https://twitter.com/AMTAXI

Pete RingMaster 11/02/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Glorybots – Nomad

What can we reveal to you about Glorybots? Well background wise, very little except that it is a solo project, seemingly, of a musician hailing from Seattle creating a post punk/gothic pop sound which had very little trouble captivating our ears.

Our introduction to the “ Dark Alien Pop” of Glorybots comes through new single Nomad, a brand new track very quickly released after the unveiling of a debut album last November called Dark Alien Pop. A hindsight listen to the latter reveals that Nomad is a rich echo of the goodness to be found within the full-length but also it brings its own new adventure and prowess in sound and imagination.

Keys immediately entice and intrigue as the track’s realm and climate is soon an open intimation. The other-worldly landscape in turn swiftly welcomes equally alluring vocals and it is their arrival which soon sparks of the song into full bloom. Enjoyably proving hard to pin down, the song is something akin to a blend of Muse, early Human League, and Dalek I Love You with just a tint of Bowie at times.  That in itself is just a tease to the individuality of song and sound while hinting at why it’s swift captivation.

Nomad is a treat of a song and gateway into the music of Glorybots, a tantalising adventure band and listener can only prosper together from with its deserved attention.

Nomads is available now @ https://glorybots.bandcamp.com/track/nomad-radio-edit

https://glorybots.com/   https://www.facebook.com/DarkAlienPop/   https://twitter.com/gloryBots

Pete RingMaster 30/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Marshmallow Coast – Memory Girl

As warm and boisterous as an eager summer day yet but one lined with intimate shadows carrying their own magnetic melancholy, the new album from Marshmallow Coast is little short of pure captivation. Across near on thirty minutes and eight cheerfully swinging tracks, Memory Girl is a fresh electro pop rock lover very easy to take in the imaginative arms and boisterously dance with.

Hailing out of Athens, Georgia, Marshmallow Coast is the brainchild of Andy Gonzales (The Music Tapes, of Montreal, Mind Brains).With Sara Kirkpatrick, Jim Hix, and Steven Trimmer alongside the band has conjured a release which embraces the senses like the rising morning sun. It is rich in warmth and hope, suggestive in knowing intimacy and understanding yet as mentioned has that darker intimation which haunts everyday life and new experiences.

Memory Girl begins with Warm Bodies and immediately the song’s balmy air and comfy touch hugs the senses. Its buoyant stroll is boisterous yet has a restraint which has hips swaying rather than the body bouncing but movement as inescapable as it is eager. There is an eighties synth pop glow to the track, a bright and engaging hue spilling across the whole of the release as swiftly confirmed by next up Take You On. With a gentler urgency to its gait as firm beats pounce with metronome like insistency, the song is a hazier affair compared to its predecessor. Indeed keys bring an almost dirty breeze to their otherwise crystalline shimmer at times, Gonzales’s tones falsetto similarly kissed whilst providing a warmly affectionate proposition to song and listener within the embrace.

 Lover’s Leap follows, sauntering in with a bold funk nurtured swagger as guitars melodically tease around it. Again the body was manipulated into involvement as the resourcefully infectious track cheerfully strolled along though once again a raw mist of sonic intimation rears its suggestive head throughout the captivation before making way for the equally inviting K. Freeman Enslaved with its Orange Juice-esque jangle and that eighties synth pop exuberance which itself brings a further XTC like imagination.

 Through the electro pop exploits of Sinz Of My Father, a track which is something akin to a meeting of Thomas Dolby and Devo, and Shooting Star with its tantalising celestial glide, the album just accentuated its hold on ears and appetite with the first of the two emerging as a real favourite play by play. They are in turn matched in success by the funk pop waltz of the increasingly compelling Foxy Boy, a track which almost stalks the listener with an infectious smile on its face and a seductive tease in its movement.

The album’s title track brings things to a close and though it is a song which did not grip our ears as tightly and dramatically as its predecessors, it left a warm glow and a taste for more of its mellow, thoughtful, and sultry intimation.

It is a fine end to a release which just grew in presence and temptation by the play; its summery haze a real but knowing escape to the shadows of daily life.

Memory Girl is out now through Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.

https://www.facebook.com/marshmallowcoast/

Pete RingMaster 8/01/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Matt Finucane – Disquiet EP

Following the release of Ugly Scene this past May, an “abrasive, noise-heavy protest” of an encounter, British alt rock troubadour Matt Finucane has its successor, Disquiet, poised for unveiling. Living up to its name, the EP is a collection of songs which as mellow and intimate as they are, come soaked in discord and melodic dissonance. They all breed a mix of challenge and seduction but most of all a fascination leaning towards needing more.

Having come across Finucane back in 2012 through his acclaimed album, Glow in The Dark, an encounter which had us simultaneously absorbed and confused, pleased yet unsure and most of all compelled to pay attention to its creator ahead, there has been constant intrigue to follow how things evolve. Fair to say feelings around Disquiet have not ventured too far away yet the enjoyment of his sound has certainly continued to grow through the offerings between both releases and is now at its most eager with the latest encounter.

As all his propositions, Disquiet is a DIY cast summons on ears and imagination as raw as it is creatively animated with opener Ulterior Motives quickly establishing Finucane’s distinct character of enterprise. Its acoustic/electric indie pop dances and flirts with ears though biding its time disharmony haunts the shadows brewing its infestation by the chord until eventually sparking a low key but inescapable cacophony for a captivating incursion of senses and song. The track epitomises the indefinable nature of his music; art and punk rock possible tags, wonk pop and dark folk others but honestly it is in a corner of its own.

The darker woozy presence of Happy Chains continues the contradiction and temptation, it’s off kilter shimmer and Finucane’s equally divisive vocals infesting melodic radiance like disorientating haze over a sunspot while the following People Move On exposes its fuzz seeded instincts. There is something akin to the kind of music artists like Frank Black and Pere Ubu have spread to Finucane’s sound, certainly a hue in its want and need to unsettle the expected and orthodox.

The EP concludes with firstly the warped melodic reflection of Always A Shadow, a track which feels like the aural side of a distorted mirror, and finally the seven minute plus journey of Dead Men Sing Us To Our Rest. In a cavernous embrace of echo and distortion, emotively and physically, the track is a malaise of frictious harmony, melodic discrepancy, and pretty much unnerving beguilement.

There is no doubt that the music of Matt Finucane is not going to sit easy with a great many but for those with a penchant for disturbing adventure and the song of the asylum, it and Disquiet should definitely be checked out.

The Disquiet EP is out October 19th via Crude Records; available @ https://mattfinucane.bandcamp.com/album/disquiet

 https://mattfinucane.net/   https://www.facebook.com/Matt.x.Finucane/

 Pete RingMaster 19/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright